Once you’re engaged, one of the first tasks you’ll want to check off the list is choosing a wedding photographer! As the person responsible for documenting all the memories of your #bestdayever and delivering images you can look back on for years and years, it’s an important decision, no doubt. Not sure where to begin or exactly what to know when choosing a wedding photographer? We’ve got five helpful tips to guide you through the process.
Photo // Courtney Leigh Photography
1. Know what you’re willing to spend.
Quality wedding photography is not something to skimp on. Often, photography (and videography) can end up being one of the largest single expenses of your entire wedding. You can expect an experienced professional wedding photographer to charge anywhere from $2500 all the to way to $10,000 and beyond. Packages vary, but remember their prices factor in not only their creative talent and honing of their craft, but their equipment costs, travel time and many, many hours of preparation and editing in addition to the time they’ll spend actually photographing your day.
2. Decide which style you feel most drawn to.
Photography, like any art form, can vary immensely from artist to artist. It’s up to you and your fiancé to decide which artistic style you like best, and let that heavily influence your decision.
Are you drawn to fine art photography? These photos tend to have more muted colors, less contrast, more brightness and cool tones. You’ll tend to see more posed, “still life,” artful shots. Often, fine art photographers use film to help achieve this distinct look. Because film has been around for generations, these photos will definitely stand the test of time, but film is also more expensive to shoot and requires a different skill set than digital photography, so you can expect to pay more for someone who incorporates film into their work.
On the contrary, many couples are drawn to a more adventurous and photojournalistic style – with less emphasis on curating the ‘perfect’ shots, rather documenting the day exactly as it unfolds. These photos tend to have more contrast, warmth and saturated colors. This style can reflect more raw emotion via candid shots and shots that capture movement.
Of course, not every photographer’s work will fall exactly into one of these categories. You’ll see photos with a combination of these and other elements. Photography is subjective, so it comes down to identifying photos that elicit a heartfelt reaction from you.
Not sure how to nail down your ideal style? We recommend gathering several of your favorite wedding photos you’ve seen and assessing what they all have in common. Is it the lighting and colors? the emotion and movement? Which type of photos do you feel would better reflect your personality?
3. Do your research.
When it comes to narrowing down your short list of photographers, you’ll want to rely on word of mouth (who have your friends used and loved? what are reviews saying?), Instagram (remember to use location-based hashtags to your advantage) and local photographer listings on resources like Brides of Houston.
Narrow down your list to 3-6 photographers (you’ll always want to have a backup, even if you have a favorite, in case that person is unavailable for your date). Peruse their websites and Instagrams to get a feel for their individual personalities. You’ll be spending essentially all day with this person on your wedding day – you want to make sure they’re someone you can be friends with!
Now’s the time to send inquiries and fill out those contact forms. Figure out what’s included in their packages. How many hours? Is an engagement session included? A bridal session? A second shooter? All things to consider and ask. It’s fine to ask to see a full gallery so you can get an idea of what the less frequently shared images look like – like their style of family shots, cocktail hour shots and reception shots. It’s also OK to request an in-person meeting.
Once you’re ready to sign the dotted line, read your contract very carefully and clarify any questions you have. What happens in the event of a reschedule (Coronavirus, anyone?)? What happens in the off chance the photographer comes down with something and can’t make it? If your wedding requires the photographer to travel, which costs are you responsible for? Will you get a print release, or are you required to purchase digitals and/or prints through the photographer? Protect yourself and your money as you finalize this decision.
4. Be clear with your goals.
Do you want these photos to be published in a magazine or online publication? Do you NOT want them to be published or shared? It’s important for your photographer to know these things ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to let them know which types of shots are most important to you – not specific poses or copies of photos you’ve found on Pinterest, but do you care more about the details, the candids, the family shots, the portraits of just you two?
Bring your photographer up to speed on any potentially awkward family dynamics, and tell them if there’s anyone in particular you’d like them to pay attention to. Do you have a grandparent you’re especially close with? Any family traveling from far and wide? Let them know so you can be sure and get photos with these people while you have the opportunity.
5. Trust your photographer’s vision and creative intuition.
Remember, you hired this person for a reason! Be open to their expert advice and let them work with your planner to create the day-of timeline. After all, they’re the lighting experts, and great photos depend a lot on great light. Time of day factors into this, as well as artificial lighting and the structure/directional orientation of your venue. Your photographer will be able to use all of these factors to help devise a timeline that allows for the best photos to be captured as you celebrate your commitment.
Don’t forget: once you’ve made a decision and hired a photographer, reach back out to any other photographers you’d inquired with and let them know you’ve gone with someone else. Don’t worry – there won’t be any hard feelings. They’ll appreciate the courtesy and will be able to open up your date for other interested couples.
Choosing a wedding photographer can be a daunting task, but trust us, it’s one of the most rewarding. Having beautiful images to cherish is one of the sweetest parts of this season. Brides of Houston is happy to recommend several Houston-area photographers for your big day!